Unreal Nature

January 14, 2016

Beyond Imagination

Filed under: Uncategorized — unrealnature @ 5:54 am

… Not that it cannot be done, but that, … it must be done by obeying Hamlet’s injunction ‘by indirection seek directions out.’

This is from the essay ‘ ‘Ça Va De Soi’: The Visual Representation of Violence in the Holocause Documenteray’ by Brian Winston, found in Killer Images: Documentary Film, Memory and the Performance of Violence edited by Joram Ten Brink & Joshua Oppenheimer (2012):

We have exactly 1’59” of moving images of the mass executions of Jews in Eastern Europe during World War II. Taken by a German non-commissioned naval officer, Reinhard Wiener, out for a stroll with his 8mm Kodak movie camera in the port of Liepaja, Latvia’s third city, sometime in July/August 1941, it shows members of an Einsatzgruppe — mobile killing squad — at work. There are civilian bystanders, local Latvian militiamen and German police in attendance as well as the SS as Jewish men are offloaded from an open truck and forced to run to an open pit where they are shot.

[ … ]

… A person seeking to represent the Holocaust — filmmaker, novelist, journalist, artist of any kind — even if they are completely careless of the potentially harmful impact of their work, cannot, supposedly, hope to explain, much less capture, the experience of the Holocaust, however much vicarious trauma they might, or might not, inflict. ‘There really is no word or means to capture the totality of the event’ in Elie Wiesel’s opinion. For some, it is beyond not only words and the realistic image, it is beyond imagination.

… There is one simple answer to the problem of illustrating die Endlösung. Not that it cannot be done, but that, as Forgács, ten Brink, Yadin and Bringas demonstrate, it must be done by obeying Hamlet’s injunction ‘by indirection seek directions out.’ Ça va de soi.

My previous post from this book is here.

-Julie

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